Rising Star on Stage: Emma Rawicz

One of the most important things that I call a success story today is that young people turn their talents, perseverance and hard work into success with courage and determination. Perspectives and forms of art production are now changing. It is inevitable to adapt to change. The experienced should proudly support the youth, give them a chance and be proud of their achievements.

Still in her early 20s, British saxophonist Emma Rawicz is a musician who has a great command of her instrument and truly loves and respects music.

The audience watching Rawicz on the stage of the 32nd Akbank Jazz Festival at Akbank Sanat, where we went for the first time in a long time, on the evening of September 27, witnessed perhaps one of the most precious moments in modern jazz history. Because this is Rawicz’s first concert outside the UK. First of all, let’s congratulate for her success. More importantly, let’s thank the Akbank Jazz Festival for putting such a young musician on the festival stage by trusting her vision.

The face of Taksim is changing in a negative way with each passing day, but we missed Akbank Sanat so much. I have always been happy to be at Akbank Sanat during the 10 years that I was involved with jazz writing.

When the concert time comes and we take our places, a fire-like quartet is on the stage. From left to right, the back trio included Ivo Neame, Conor Chaplin and Asaf Sarkis. In the front row was Emma Rawicz, whom we listened to on soprano and tenor.

Ant Law, who was on the guitar in the album Incantation, was not on the stage. But Rawicz’s arrangement for the guitarless band gave beautiful improvisation spaces to the great pianist Ivo Neame and drummer Sarkis, who changed the perception of time in an untraceable way and at the same time, kept you hooked. After the first track, by saluting teh audience as “Thank you very much for coming to our concert today,” Rawicz ignited the first spark of sympathy.

Let me tell you from the beginning, the group is an extremely democratic group. No musician is crushing each other, the hierarchy is kept in balance in the solos. It is clear from their attitudes that each musician in the group gets along very well. They’re definitely having fun.

Conor Chaplin is a bassist who performs equally well on both double bass and electric bass. One of the most valuable needs of a team is to have a bass player like this Swiss army knife. Thus, the group can easily adapt to groovy moments and calm ballads.

In our article published on DBN before the concert, we mentioned that Emma Rawicz’s musical abilities, including composing, are very good. Let’s put these features in our pocket, but it’s not just about that.

Ivo Neame and Asaf Sarkis’ comfort, experience and guidance during the performance were so spot on that Rawicz had already ensured her success with the confidence she received from musicians like this castle behind her. Although she is a good instrumentalist, the fact that she turns her head to Neame for approval during the intros and the end of his solo and that Neame encourages Rawicz shows that the future of jazz is in safe hands. The mountains of experience among the musicians are melted by sharing in the jazz language.

Beyond all these, Rawicz has another really important weapon. I am lucky that I had the chance to watch the concert at the front. It was almost as if I was on the stage and had the chance to analyze the events in every detail. I also saw that the piano solo rose miraculously when Rawicz faltered in some parts of her solos. The division of tasks among them, team play is one of my favorite things in jazz. But without a doubt, the moment that impressed me the most was observing Rawicz’s enjoyment while watching her teammates.

You can tell how much she loves music from her facial expressions, from the way she tilts her head back and keeps the tempo, and from the smile in her eyes when she hears a good piano solo. Apparently, the music makes her feel really good and it’s obvious that she will continue to move forward. As long as the future formations and record companies she will be in allow her, she will continue to produce good works or re-draw her own path from scratch. Time will show us.

At the concert, we listened to songs from the album Incantation and the album recorded this summer, which will probably be on the shelves next year. When they started playing Vodoo, the opening track of the album, I felt that the energy was at its peak.

A young breath came together in front of the groovy bass, freestyle drums and lyric piano performance. Music was their native language and I could hear them speaking this language very well. They played so organically that I thought they were going to improvise forever. Asaf Sarkis’ drum solo in Vodoo was one of the most creative solos I’ve heard in a long time. In the meantime, let’s also mention that Vodoo is the name of a streaming service.

As a music lover who knows and loves pianist Ivo Neame from the Phronesis period, I would like to state that I enjoy watching him on stage again. We know that Phronesis will never reunite, but I recommend listening to Neame on his latest solo album Glimpses of Truth and with his new ensemble Shijin. I am sure that his professionalism and rhythm perception will impress you a lot.

You can buy Rawicz’s first album on Bandcamp. Middleground, a ballad she wrote for her father, which will be included in her new album, is an indication that his next one will be as good as her first album.

When Rawicz’s Akbank Jazz Festival convert comes to an end, we are in the foyer to chat with the artists, as is customary. I was with saxophone master Yahya Dai, whom I have known for a long time and whom I enjoy exchanging information. He is such a wonderful person and musician that he never hesitates to share his experiences generously. Dai has a strong stance against Spotify’s exploitation of artist labor. He sees Spotify as a labor exploit that only makes $1 for thousands of listens. Yahya Dai is an experienced music veteran angry at the system in today’s age of mechanized listening habits. When he goes to the concert, he tries to support the artist by buying physical copies if he can. If he can’t buy it, he buys the album on Itunes. I wish this exemplary stance to become widespread among the music market and listeners.

I am aware that the prices have increased. But I am also aware that people do not rightly give up their social lives and hobbies, whatever the prices. That being the case, we, true music lovers, may run the risk of being deprived of the quality music we love if we are not able to sustain the livelihood of this precious musicians. We are also together with Ozan Musluoğlu, who shared the stage with Neame 10 years ago, in our commemorative photo, which is indispensable for after the concert.

I hope we will have the chance to watch Rawicz again in our country. It will be a pleasure to watch her progress.

Burak Sülünbaz

Co-Founder, Jazz Writer // Kurucu Ortak, Caz Yazarı

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